quotations about death
There are more dead people than living. And their numbers are increasing. The living are getting rarer.
EUGENE IONESCO, Rhinoceros
To die will be an awfully big adventure.
A man dies ... only a few circles in the water prove that he was ever there. And even they quickly disappear. And when they're gone, he's forgotten, without a trace, as if he'd never even existed. And that's all.
WOLFGANG BORCHERT, The Outsider
Dying is like getting audited by the IRS--something that only happens to other people ... until it happens to you.
JEROME P. CRABB, Death Quotes and Quibbles
The human animal is a beast that dies but the fact that he’s dying don’t give him pity for others, no sir.
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- Cowards die many times before their deaths
- The valiant never taste of death but once.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Julius Caesar
Better to flee from death than feel its grip.
We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE, Religio Medici
- Death, in itself, is nothing; but we fear,
- To be we know not what, we know not where.
Our life dreams the Utopia. Our death achieves the Ideal.
VICTOR HUGO, Intellectual Autobiography
You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face.
IAN FLEMING, You Only Live Twice
- Morn after morn dispels the dark,
- Bearing our lives away;
- Absorbed in cares we fail to mark
- How swift our years decay;
- Some maddening draught hath drugged our souls,
- In love with vital breath,
- Which still the same sad chart unrolls,
- Birth, eld, disease, and death.
BHARTRHARI, "Against the Desire of Worldly Things"
Of all the events which constitute a person's biography, there is scarcely one ... to which the world so easily reconciles itself as to his death.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The House of the Seven Gables
Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.
YODA, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
- Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, The Golden Legend
Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.
KATHARINE HEPBURN, The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners
The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.
JOHN DRYDEN, Palamon and Arcite
As soon as one is born, one starts dying.
LUIGI PIRANDELLO, Henry IV
Here was a man who now for the first time found himself looking into the eyes of death--who was passing through one of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call knowing it, as the vision of waters upon the earth is different from the delirious vision of the water which cannot be had to cool the burning tongue. When the commonplace 'We must all die' transforms itself suddenly into the acute consciousness 'I must die--and soon,' then death grapples us, and his fingers are cruel; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly discerning may be like the first.
GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch
Death ain't nothing but a fastball on the outside corner.
Dying is like coming to the end of a long novel--you only regret it if the ride was enjoyable and left you wanting more.
JEROME P. CRABB, Death Quotes and Quibbles
Those who think about death, carrying with them their existing ideas and emotions, usually assume that they will have, during their last hours, ideas and emotions of like vividness ... but they do not fully recognize the implication that the feeling faculty, too, is almost gone. The imagine the state to be one in which they can have emotions such as they now have on contemplating the cessation of life. But at the last all the mental powers simultaneously ebb, as do the bodily powers, and with them goes the capacity for emotion in general. It is, indeed, possible that in its last stages consciousness is occupied by a not displeasurable sense of rest.
HERBERT SPENCER, Facts and Comments
It seems a strange and repugnant conclusion that with the cessation of consciousness at death, there ceases to be any knowledge of having existed. With his last breath it becomes to each the same thing as though he had never lived. And then the consciousness itself -- what is it during the time that it continues? And what becomes of it when it ends? We can only infer that it is a specialized and individualized form of that Infinite and Eternal Energy which transcends both our knowledge and our imagination; and that at death its elements lapse into the Infinite and Eternal Energy whence they were derived.
HERBERT SPENCER, Facts and Comments
It hath been often said, that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible.
- As a dark Shadow
- Beckons his prey
- Into the unknown
- By a soft whisper
- In the soul
CINDY CHENEY, "Death"
We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream: it may be so the moment after death.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, American Note-Books, 1836
Death doesn't bargain.
AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Dance of Death
Brief and powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark.
BERTRAND RUSSELL, Philosophical Essays
With death comes honesty.
SALMAN RUSHDIE, The Satanic Verses
Death is when the monsters get you.
STEPHEN KING, Salem's Lot
- Death makes angels of us all
- & gives us wings
- where we had shoulders
- smooth as raven's
JIM MORRISON, An American Prayer
Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.
BERTOLT BRECHT, The Mother
- Death is a new office building filled with modern furniture,
- A wise thing, but which has no purpose for us.
JOHN ASHBERY, "A Last World"
Death's gang is bigger and tougher than anyone else's. Always has been and always will be. Death's the man.
MICHAEL MARSHALL, The Upright Man
Nothing is born which Death makes not subject of his state.
BHARTRHARI, "Of Time the Destroyer"
No one on his deathbed ever said, "I wish I had spent more time on my business."
PAUL E. TSONGAS, New York Times, Jan. 14, 1987
- Who knows but life be that which men call death,
- And death what men call life?
EURIPIDES, Phrixus [fragment]
A man begins dying at the moment of his birth. Most people live in denial of Death's patient courtship until, late in life and deep in sickness, they become aware of him sitting bedside.
- A couch of thorns, or an embroidered bed,
- Are matters of indifference to the dead.
THEOGNIS OF MEGARA, "Sumptuous Obsequies"
- He that abideth when he might depart
- From this world hath no wisdom in his heart.
- There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
- And, with his sickle keen,
- He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
- And the flowers that grow between.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, "The Reaper and the Flowers"
Taunting Death ... means pitting oneself against a wily enemy who cannot lose.
J. K. ROWLING, The Tales of Beedle the Bard
When a house has just lost its soul, a stricken silence falls over the sudden emptiness that no one will fill again. And all the noises that may be made later in that house will be like a scandalous din, ugly echoes from one room to another, from one corridor to another, sharp and discordant as if the walls are no longer able to absorb any music once the source of harmony has been taken away. But this strange detail about the power of death can only be picked up by ears that are very attentive to the smallest murmurs of life. Rational people go through these empty spaces with the serenity of a lawyer, and their indulgent smiles categorise you if you decide to point out in their presence that there is something lacking in the atmosphere.
PIERRE, MAGNAN, The Messengers of Death
Death aims only once, but never misses.
How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it.
- For death is but a passing phase of Life;
- A change of dress, a disrobing;
- A birth into the unborn again;
- A commencing where we ended;
- A starting where we stopped to rest;
- A crossroad of Eternity;
- A giving up of something, to possess all things.
- The end of the unreal, the beginning of the real.
EDWIN LEIBFREED, "The Song of the Soul"
Death is a great revealer of what is in a man, and in its solemn shadow appear the naked lineaments of the soul.
E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words
Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.
GEORGE ELIOT, Adam Bede
How dreadful is the prospect of death, at the remotest distance! how the smallest apprehensions of it can pall the most gay, airy, and brisk spirits! even I, who thought I could have been merry in sight of my coffin, and drink a health with the sexton in my own grave, now tremble at the least envoy of the king of terrors. To see but the shaking of my glass makes me turn pale ... all the jollity of my humour and conversation is turned on a sudden into chagrin and melancholy, black as despair, and gloomy as the grave.
WELLINS CALCOTT, Thoughts Moral and Divine
Death is the condition of higher and more fruitful life.
E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words
Funerals all over the world everywhere every minute. Shovelling them under by the cartload doublequick. Thousands every hour. Too many in the world.
The great thing about the dead, they make space.
JOHN UPDIKE, Rabbit is Rich
We are mere notes in a piece of music played by the angel Death--heard and lost.
AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought
Being dead will be no different from being unborn -- I shall be just as I was in the time of William the Conqueror or the dinosaurs or the trilobites. There is nothing to fear in that.
RICHARD DAWKINS, The God Delusion
Dying was just an extended version of Ash Wednesday.
What does thou ail, O mortal man, or to what purpose is to spend thy life in groans and complaints, under the apprehensions of Death? Where are thy past years and pleasures? Are they not vanish'd and lost in the flux of time, as if thou hadst put water into a sieve? Bethink thyself then of retreat, and leave the world with the same content and satisfaction as a well satisfied guest rises from an agreeable feast.
WELLINS CALCOTT, Thoughts Moral and Divine
All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, Death in the Afternoon
Better to live or die, once and for all, than die by inches.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
STEVE JOBS, Commencement address at Stanford University, Jun. 12, 2005
Death is the dropping of the flower, that the fruit may swell.
HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit
- Dead man, dead man
- When will you arise?
- Cobwebs in your mind
- Dust upon your eyes
BOB DYLAN, "Dead Man, Dead Man"
Are not the thoughts of the dying often turned towards the practical, painful, obscure, visceral aspect, towards the "seamy side" of death which is, as it happens, the side that death actually presents to them and forces them to feel, and which far more closely resembles a crushing burden, a difficulty in breathing, a destroying thirst, than the abstract idea to which we are accustomed to give the name of Death?
MARCEL PROUST, Swann's Way
Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.
ALBERT CAMUS, The Stranger
Some people die, others just run out of fuel.
CARMEN BOULLOSA, Cleopatra Dismounts
When I read obituaries I always note the age of the deceased. Automatically I relate this figure to my own age. Four years to go, I think. Nine more years. Two years and I'm dead. The power of numbers is never more evident than when we use them to speculate on the time of our dying.
When among the graves of thy fellows, walk with circumspection; thine own is open at thy feet.
AMBROSE BIERCE, "Epigrams of a Cynic"
Death ... was the only kept promise out of all life's false starts and switchbacks, all there was at the end of the dusty road.
WILLIAM GAY, Provinces of Night
In the end, living is defined by dying. Bookended by oblivion, we are caught in the vice of terror, squeezed to bursting by the approaching end.
How fine is the mesh of death. You can almost see through it.
JANE HIRSHFIELD, "The Present"
- A man's life breath cannot come back again--
- no raiders in force, no trading brings it back,
- once it slips through a man's clenched teeth.
- Death is a Dialogue between
- The Spirit and the Dust.
EMILY DICKINSON, "Death is a Dialogue"
There are some dead who are more alive than the living.
ROMAIN ROLLAND, Jean-Christophe
It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.
WOODY ALLEN, Death: A Comedy in One Act
- As the woodpecker taps in a spiral quest
- From the root to the top of the tree,
- Then flies to another tree,
- So have I bored into life to find what lay therein,
- And now it is time to die,
- And I will fly to another tree.
SIDNEY LANIER, Songs Against Death
We live as we die, and die as we live.
All that day and into the night, my mother knelt before her altar, before the icon of the Virgin, before the candles burning, and rolled her rosary between her hands, beating her chest and calling for mercy, for some intercession. As I watched her, I realized that she could see death, and I too, and it wasn't some ugly skeleton with a scythe--death is a beautiful woman, eyes soft from morning dew, lips pulled back in the saddest smile, praying at an altar for her husband's life.
CHRIS ABANI, Song for Night
Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.
MARCUS AURELIUS, Meditations
Death always leaves one singer to mourn.
KATHERINE ANNE PORTER, Pale Horse, Pale Rider
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Read James Vila Blake's essay: Of Death
Browse Death Quotes from movies and tv shows
Death Quotes - more quotations on death.
Poems on Death - a collection of poetry on the subject of death.
Celebrity Death Trivia - a collection of trivia questions on the death of famous public figures.
Death - Wikipedia article.